It was a year and a half ago that my brother Timothy spent a week with me in a small office dreaming up Equal Rights Institute. Six months later, a year ago today, I resigned from the organization I spent six years working for and began full-time work for ERI.
It was a scary time. For the first time in my life, I was completely responsible for raising the funds needed to not only accomplish our mission, but also to feed my family. It was also incredibly exciting. Timothy soon moved to Fresno so we could share an office and continue dreaming together, now with the ability to make our dreams a reality.
I quickly put together a Board of Directors and received assistance in filling out the necessary IRS paperwork. Even though the IRS was tending to take 6-24 months to approve pro-life organizations, we received our approval precisely one month after sending in the application!
We gave our first seminar to the staff of Students for Life of America, and a month later trained the pro-life club at Biola University. Our training materials were already quite a bit different from what we had previously taught, and our program continues to become more and more unique with each training we do. Tim and I regularly brainstorm in our office trying to solve problems, with the goal of helping pro-life people to be more persuasive when they dialogue with pro-choice people.
In September we hired Jacob Nels, who proved himself to be a natural member of the team right away. His wisdom and charitable attitude towards everyone around him, from both sides of the abortion debate, made him a great fit at Equal Rights Institute.
We were able to raise enough in those first months to focus on our mission, thanks in no small part to a generous grant we were given by the D. D. and Velma Davis Foundation. I always thought I would hate fundraising, but I actually don’t. I love sitting down with people and telling them about our vision of making the pro-life movement known by our love and thoughtfulness, and our strategy to accomplish that.
The following Spring we designed an outreach brochure from scratch and began using it in training seminars and outreaches in Bakersfield and Portland. We have a few minor tweaks to make and then we’ll put our brochure online for you to see.
Public speaking was one of the ways we spread our message from the very beginning. Since launching I have given 35 speeches to 9,500 people, in California, Oregon, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Washington DC, and Canada!
We’ve posted 26 articles to our blog, which have been read by nearly 35,000 people at our website alone, and over 100,000 more people at LifeNews.com.
We have big plans for the rest of the year, which we’ll be announcing later this month.
I am so incredibly proud of what my team has accomplished in only one year. We weren’t content to merely fundraise and focus on the hundreds of tasks it takes to launch a non-profit organization. We worked on those while creating new material, and bringing that material to pro-lifers across North America. Thanks to being on campus with the students we’re training, we’re able to see firsthand that the arguments we teach and the practical dialogue tips we’re sharing with the pro-life movement makes a big difference in improving the productivity of dialogues about abortion.
Would you be willing to partner with us financially as we move forward with our vision of training pro-life advocates to persuade more pro-choice people to not kill their babies? As is the case with most non-profits, our funds are getting pretty tight as we begin the summer months. Your one-time or monthly tax-deductible gift of $25, $50, $100 or more would make a huge difference. It would get us to the point of being sustainable faster so that we can spend less of our summer fundraising and more of it producing training material that we can share with the pro-life movement. Thank you so much for your help.